Art in Action — K is for Kinetic Art

Mommy Crusader Preschool Units, School, STEAM, summer 0 Comments

K is for Kinetic Art – Making a Pull-Tab Book

Our STEAM unit focusing on K continues with an art experience in kinetic art – making a pull-tab book. Kinetic art is art that moves. And, while a pull-tab book isn’t as kinetic as some art, the book still has moving parts – so I’m classifying it as kinetic art. This was a multi-step project involving coloring, cutting, origami, and creating a fun children’s story.

We had a good time creating this book together. It was a lot of fun to help the children fold their frogs, and develop the story line. The kids love reading the book and pulling all the tabs. They also enjoyed making the backgrounds and putting the book together. This little book, “Three Frogs”, has become their favorite in our library.

The book took an hour for the pages to be completed – but I was working with six children, from 10 to 3, during the time. There were many great fine motor skills practiced as we created this piece of art. We colored Lily pads, folded origami frogs, cut and glued backgrounds. The actual creation of the pull-tabs and assembly of the book took me another hour to complete. The most difficult part of the process was making sure the pull-tabs all pulled away from the spine of the book.

One copy of the Lily Pad page, available here. (This printable also includes step-by-step instructions on how to make a paper frog, so only print the first page for the children.)

Square sheets of craft or scrap book paper
Blank typing paper
Ribbon, yarn, string, or something similar

Begin by having the children color and cut out the Lily Pads. We colored two Lily Pads each.

My fifth grader coloring her lily pad.

Now, following the step-by-step instructions, help the children fold a paper frog. We needed a lot of frogs, so I had each child fold four. My fifth and third graders were able to fold the frogs with only minimal assistance. My first grader and preschooler needed a lot more showing and helping. And my 3-year-old needed me to do most of the steps with her.

Playing with a completed frog. Wahoo!


After folding the frogs, it is time to develop the story. Our story involved a frog being friendly and inviting other frogs to join him on his Lily Pad. Stories can be anything the children want to create or have the frogs do. Let them be the guides on the story creation. Also, remember that the book will be easier to create if each page has only one or two sentences.

Once the story is developed, it is time to put the elements of each page together. Remember to position the stationary elements so that when the pull-tab elements are created, the tabs will always pull away from the spine. We created the pages with the Lily pads and frogs first, then, I sketched in a rough background. I then gave each child a background page to color.

Next, it is time to add the pull-tab elements.
Cut the small rectangle on the Lily pads (if that works for your story) to be an opening so the pull-tabs can be anchored on the back of the page.
Cut a strip of paper thin enough to go through the hole, and long enough to reach where the moveable element will start from, with enough length added in for a fold.
Now, fold the strip so that when the tab is pulled the element will move to the proper place on the page. Cut another hole in the page where the element will lie before it is pulled to its new position.
Next, glue the anchor of the pull-tab through the hole cut for the anchor, then weave the paper into the other hole. Double-check that the fold that makes the jump when the pull-tab is used is the right length.
Glue the moveable element onto the top of the fold. Fold the end of the strip of paper over the string, ribbon, yarn, etc., to create the tab to be pulled.
Tie the string and trim the ends.

Now, it’s time to add the story to the book.

First, glue a blank piece of paper on the back of each of the previously created pages.

Use the blank pages as space to write the story on.

Finally, staple all the pages together in book form. Then, read it to the creators of the book.

One of the finished pages of our new pull-tab book.

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